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Sun, 24 January 2021

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Ousted SNP MP hits out at ‘tepid’ party campaign

Ousted SNP MP hits out at ‘tepid’ party campaign
3 min read

An SNP MP who lost his seat to Labour has criticised his party’s campaign for being “all over the shop”.

George Kerevan said the SNP's platform had not been radical enough, while Labour had boosted their support north of the border through enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn.

Writing in The National, the former East Lothian MP argued that Scottish Labour’s “dull and truculent” campaign had not been to the left of the SNP, but that the nationalists’ failed to respond to the rise of the “amazing anti-austerity movement in England”.

“With the rise of Corbyn, the SNP government needed to move to the left. Given the actual rise of a Frankenstein Tory right in Scotland, we were hardly risking anything. Besides, this morning we might have been celebrating a Corbyn government backed by the votes of nearly 59 SNP MPs,” he said.

While the number of SNP MPs fell from 56 to 35, the Tories picked up 13 seats and Labour took seven, both up from one each.

Mr Kerevan added that the party lacked a consistent campaign message and that moves by the party last year to address voters’ concerns on independence and Scotland’s place in Europe felt like a “stunt”.

“As I know to my cost as a candidate – the SNP “message” during this election was all over the shop,” he said.

“We started in the aftermath of the EU vote by focusing on indyref2. Remember the “national conversation” on Europe and independence launched in late 2016? It felt like a stunt."

He added: “By the spring, after May set her face against a second independence referendum, the SNP seemed to relegate indyref2 to a long-term Scottish response to any hard Brexit deal.

“That was sensible enough. But after a snap General Election was called, the party’s message shifted yet again – to the tepid “stronger for Scotland” at Westminster theme.”

The former MP also suggested the SNP alter their approach to Europe, in a bid to win back former “working class” voters disenchanted by the party’s staunchly pro-EU platform.

“It could just be that the national movement is split on attitudes to the EU and we’ll have to lump it.

“However, as I said repeatedly during the campaign, the SNP leadership did little to address the concerns of our pro-indy, pro-Brexit supporters.

“To square this circle, the party may have to shift towards a Norwegian solution: Scotland outside the EU but inside the single market.”

Mr Kerevan said any Tory-DUP arrangement in Government would “propel national and constitutional questions” back in to the fold however.

“Despite last week’s setback, the increasing instability of the British state is our opportunity to seize Scottish independence,” he said.

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